The department's name change, initiated three years ago, will soon be official.
By AMANDA C. DAVIS
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Terry Nicopolis loves talking trash.
Just get him on the subject and he'll go on about his employees at the city's Environmental Services Department and how they've done the day-to-day grunt work that's helped provide a more efficient garbage collection service.
Nicopolis is proud of the turnaround since he took the helm as director in 1995, and he attributes much of the success to his crews, who work hard, sometimes going above and beyond the call of duty.
Because things are looking up, Nicopolis says he's asking city council for permission to move two part-time casual laborers into full-time positions.
In the red: The department was $700,000 in the hole when he took over and is now ahead by about $300,000, he said.
With eight trucks, the department handles 100 tons of garbage a day, from 500 commercial accounts and 16,000 residential accounts.
He says a financial impact study shows the department is able to cover the cost difference to hire the two casual laborers as full-time environmental service operators.
Right now, they make $9.24 per hour without benefits. Full-time, they'll start off earning $9.85 with benefits.
Nicopolis said he'd like to do away with the part-time positions because casual laborers need the same training as full-timers, and because of the workload, put in nearly as many hours.
The amount of work to get done is massive, and the director plans to go after more commercial accounts.
The department now handles trash for private outfits and public entities including Warren City Schools.
Besides garbage collection, workers handle some work on trucks and do other tasks such as picking up and delivering large waste receptacles that can be rented.
Supports move: Councilwoman Virginia Bufano, D-1st, said she's got no problem with Nicopolis' request.
That's because residents seem pleased with the service, which is efficient, on time and uses standard receptacles that make putting out trash a breeze, Bufano said.
Next week, council will probably take action to make the department's name change official.
What was once known as the city sanitation department unofficially became Environmental Services about three years ago. The name already appears on the trucks, but the legal work was not completed until recently.
Nicopolis said he was told it took the city law department so long to put the change in the form of an ordinance because it had to go back through every piece of legislation that made reference to the department and change the wording.
Pride: Nicopolis is proud of what he's accomplished since he became director and he plans to retire in a year.
The department is more like a business than a public department, he said.
"This is like my baby."